Just over a year ago, I wrote a review of Windows 8, based on the release preview version that shipped last summer. At the end of that piece, I predicted that Steve Ballmer would be forced out as CEO in 2013. It turns out I was right. Ballmer has announced his pending resignation.
This is a perfect time for Ballmer to leave. It’s been long enough since Surface RT and Windows 8’s rocky releases for Ballmer to take most of the negativity around the company’s market missteps into retirement with him. The next big release cycle is still reasonably far off. If it’s a good release, the new CEO will be able to take all the credit for it, and if it isn’t so good then it can still be blamed on Ballmer.
Poor guy. I’ve met Mr. Ballmer, though I’m not familiar enough to comfortably call him Steve. Factually speaking, Microsoft did very well under his leadership. It grew market share, expanded into new markets, and maintains a healthy bottom-line financially. As a person, the most striking thing about Ballmer is that he is a true believer. He believes in Microsoft as a company, he believes in its products, and he believes in its mission. But what impresses me the most, is that he has always believed that Microsoft could be better and do more –he always moved forward with genuine optimism and enthusiasm.
It’s tragic his last act as CEO will be to take all the blame for all the company’s faults. That, my friends, is the kind of self-sacrifice worthy of respect. It will give Microsoft a chance to turn its image around, and to regain its footing in its troubled consumer and mobile segments.
I just hope that whoever takes his place understands what Ballmer’s exit means for the company, and can capitalize on the opportunity. Microsoft still has all the financial, legal, and technical tools that it needs to right itself… all it needs is someone with vision enough to get it done.
BTW Microsoft, I’m open to new opportunities. If you have trouble locating a suitable replacement CEO, just give me a call. I can fix it.